Hundreds Of Covid Patients Evacuated From Paris As Hospitals Reach Breaking Point

Hundreds Of Covid Patients Evacuated From Paris As Hospitals Reach Breaking Point. image: FR SGV

Hundreds Of Covid Patients Evacuated From Paris As Hospitals Reach Breaking Point.

The French government has announced it plans to evacuate hundreds of Covid-19 patients from intensive care units in the Paris region this week as hospitals struggle to keep up with a surge in cases. According to reports, several patients were already transferred over the weekend.

By transferring the patients, and relieving the pressure on hospitals, officials hope to avoid a new lockdown for the 12 million people in and around the French capital as they race to step up a vaccination drive that has failed to gather traction so far.

Speaking on Sunday, March 14, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that “by the end of this week, probably around 100 patients will have been evacuated from the Ile-de-France region.”

When pressed if Paris would avoid a new lockdown, Attal said “we are doing everything we can to not have to take more difficult, more restrictive measures.” However, “we will always take whatever decisions are necessary.”

Later this week, two specially equipped TGV trains will transfer “several dozens of patients to regions that today are under less strain” from the pandemic, Attal added.

Hospitals in Paris are so overrun by coronavirus that medics are set to use high-speed trains for ‘mass emergency evacuations’ out of the city. It comes as France struggles to prevent the spread of the disease, reporting almost 30,000 new cases on Saturday.

The number of people in intensive care units edged up by 37 to 4,070, as pressure intensified on hospitals. Now a ‘first wave of mass evacuations’ out of Paris by high-speed train is set to start on Thursday, with 24 critical patients being placed on a TGV to less busy hospitals in other parts of France.

Frédéric Adnet, head of the emergency department at the Avicenne Hospital in north Paris, told Le Parisien: “It’s a logistical effort that is both extremely difficult and delicate to put in place. We are getting ready to start,” Mr Adnet said, adding that patients had to be selected according to a “very strict” medical criteria. They must be patients in a serious but stable condition and who do not require therapeutic care during the transfer.”

SNCF, France’s national rail operator, confirmed that some Paris patients had already been transferred by train, but the numbers were set to increase significantly.

France has the world’s sixth-highest total of cases, just behind Britain, but unlike the UK, its vaccination programme has been plagued by logistical bottlenecks. The Health Ministry in Paris said 241,814 people received a first vaccination shot on Saturday, bringing the total to just over five million or 7.6 per cent of the population.

The figure for those who have already received two injections was 2.2 million – around a fifth of the British figure.


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Tony Winterburn

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